TAT Ristorante di Famiglia

Melissa Kossler Dutton

Jimmy Corrova has no intention of retiring. The 79-year-old owner of the East Side's TAT Ristorante di Famiglia still looks forward to coming to work.

"I'm here seven days a week," he said. "It's in my blood."

Work also is a gathering place for his family. He and his wife, Dolores, work side by side with their children and grandchildren to run the restaurant, which touts itself as the city's oldest Italian restaurant. Corrova's father opened the first TAT in a different location in 1929. The family has had restaurants in several locations over the years, and the James Road location opened more than two decades ago.

-Melissa Kossler Dutton

What does working in a restaurant teach you?

It taught me how to work with people of all kinds. I've met a whole lot of characters in my life. It taught me responsibility. If you say you're going to do something, you do it.

Do your customers enjoy seeing you and your family working together?

They like to see the owner in the restaurant. That's the biggest thing missing in these chains. There's no personal touch.

Tell us about the food.

Southern Italian. My dad came from Sicily. My mother was from Naples. They were born there. I learned everything from my mother and father. We make everything from scratch. We make sauce three times a week. We make all our own meatballs.

The restaurant supports local schools and charitable causes. Why is that important to you?

It's just second nature to me. I do it for the love of God. My parents taught me well. I had a Catholic education.

Your daughters, Marianne and Michelle, work full-time in the restaurant. Your son, Michael, also helps with the business. Do you think any of your grandchildren will follow in the family tradition?

They're too young to determine. I want them to get a college education. I want to see them get an education first.

What does TAT stand for?

Transcontinental Air Transport. It took passengers from coast to coast in 48 hours. Passengers took the Pennsylvania Railroad to Columbus and boarded a plane at Port Columbus. I renamed it six months ago to "Take Any Table."